I realized I had this sitting and never posted. I apologize. I hope you enjoy!
Two days passed since Kaitlin's run-in with Ohanzee, luckily she hadn't seen him once. Although that might be due to the fact she avoided White Tail Creek like the plagues of Egypt.
Here she was waving farewell to her mother Clara who was on her way to visit a family friend from a few towns away. She wasn't to be back for a few days. Naturally, the keeping of the house went to Kaitlin.
The younger woman was more than a little nervous to be left alone after hearing all sorts of threats in town. The townspeople insisted it was only a rumor. Confident in this, Clara had no qualms about leaving her daughter; forcing Kaitlin to keep her opinions to herself.
Maybe she would enjoy the solitude, perhaps even do a little painting. She hadn't done any pictures in a very long time.
Sighing as her mother and wagon disappeared in the distance, Kaitlin sat down on the edge of the porch, dangling her feet. Now that she was alone, she felt loneliness hit her like a ton of bricks.
Being alone made her think too much… and Kaitlin didn't want to think. If she began doing that she'd think of everything that happened of late. Thinking of her father hurt. Bleeding. Dead.
"Maybe I should go ahead and start painting," Kaitlin mused aloud, getting up from her spot, refusing to allow herself too much time to think. Now was not the time to dwell on such awful memories.
In minutes, she had the easel set out with all her paints and brushes. She was ready to draw but what? Her eyes captured the vast land in front of her. If she stared hard enough, there but barely seen was the creek she'd fled.
Squinting in concentration, Kaitlin lifted her brush, prepared to draw a few trees.
A scream ripped through the empty air and Kaitlin jerked. Paint smeared across the canvas; completely ruining her efforts, but the girl didn't notice.
Kaitlin shot up the front steps, heart hammering in her chest; intending on running into the house. Thundering hooves halted her tracks; she stood there frozen in horror.
More than ten Indians sat upon war painted Appaloosas. The warriors themselves were covered in so much paint; one couldn't see their skin color. But what alarmed Kaitlin the most was how many weapons they held.
She backed against the front door from her position on the porch. Would she be safer outside or locked in the house? No… they'd burn her alive inside her own home. Their eyes were glued on her and she knew with a sickening feeling in her gut they meant to kill her. If she had a gun she wouldn't know how to use it. Why hadn't she learned any self defense if she was forced to live in such an uncivilized land?!
The Indian in the front dismounted and was getting too close for comfort.
"St—stop r—right there! Don't come any c—closer!" Kaitlin brandished her paint brush like a sword.
At first it seemed to have the desired effect if only for a second.
Kaitlin found herself being dragged down the porch steps by her hair. She screamed as she was thrown hard to the ground like a sack of grain. Scalp on fire, she curled herself into a fetal position. "What do you want from me?!" her cry rung through the trees.
"Revenge!" her captor spat in anger. His foot struck out to kick her but Kaitlin rolled quickly away. This made him and his band even the angrier.
"You will pay for your father's sins!" This time Kaitlin was unable to avoid being kicked in the side.
My gosh. What did father do?! "Please don't do this!" Kaitlin tried to protect her head but they came from all directions to surround her. It was over—this was where would die… Just as a knife was pointed at her throat there was a shout.
The voice was familiar but in her pain-hazed state she couldn't place the face that went with it.
Ohanzee was too late. He knew it in an instant that the nearby scream was Kaitlin Wycliffe. The girl was mouthy and prejudice but he didn't wish to see her death. The last of the Wycliffe family were the main targets. There was no telling what the rogue warriors would do to her and her mother.
The sight that met him in the Wycliffe's front yard made his blood turn cold.
The warriors he'd tried so hard to get to trust him had the girl surrounded. Taking turns to spit and kick Kaitlin who lay curled in a ball in an attempt to reflect the torture.
The truce between Ohanzee and these men was now broken. It was time for them to stop. Ohanzee had been unable to stop all of the murders through town but enemy or no enemy's daughter; he would not see her die this day.
"Stop this!" Ohanzee shouted at them in anger, "Have you stooped so low you would torture and murder a defenseless woman? The white people are the ones that stoop this low. Don't follow their way!" they locked at him with contempt but because he was son of their chief and they'd already stepped over their bounds they had no other option and backed away from the beaten girl.
"She's your responsibility now," the leader of the band, Two Hawks shoved past him.
Ohanzee wasted no time getting to Kaitlin's side. She was unconscious and maybe that was a blessing. If she'd been awake she wouldn't have withstood the pain of Ohanzee moving her. Bruises covered her face and arms. Under those many layers of clothing he knew there were even more braises. There was no question that she'd been kicked in the head. Ohanzee had to get her to his Eetsa. The girl's mother was clearly away. With the town in the state of such chaos, his Eetsa would be her best chance of survival.
"Forgive me, Miss Wycliffe," Ohanzee apologized in advance even though he knew she wouldn't hear him. But the Nez Percé felt he must anyway. Kaitlin was going to hate him but he doubted she'd hate him more than she already did. The girl—the woman's hatred for his people stemmed deep. Had anyone told her what her father had really done or had she been protected from the truth?
Ever so gently, Ohanzee locked his arms under her knees and back, lifting her up. He frowned when she gave no reaction. He needed to get her help.